Date: August 11, 2014
Continuing their mission in the Land of Bears, the three Leaf nin shadow some suspicious individuals.
Poster's note: foul language filtered in obvious places.
"The Bear Face of Politics - Part 3: Separate and Shadow"
Land of Bears
A few days had passed since the trio of Konohagakure ninja had settled into the capitol city and began their scouting mission at the palace. With the festivities building around the upcoming spectacle the Daimyo was holding, traffic in the capitol had increased substantially. This made moving around the city unnoticed a little easier, though it also meant more potentially hidden 'eyes' of the enemy, whomever it may be.
After observing the comings and goings of the palace over the last few days, Daisuke, Soren, and Atsuro had picked out a potential group of two men and a woman that frequented the palace but weren't on any records and did not come at the usual times the Daimyo held audience. Today's task, discussed over breakfast, was to wait for the trio to visit the palace again, and then tail them to see where they ended up. With the Leaf trio sitting around the table finishing up breakfast, Daisuke turns to the others and asks, "Are there any questions or last minute ideas?"
Atsuro pushes his chair back from the table and gives a loud yawn before he responds. "I have an idea," he says, "Let's all go back to bed and try it again tomorrow. I'm gonna try sleeping in a tree and that will surely be more restful than the actual room. Doesn't anyone know how beds work here?" Among the dishes he's left on the table is a mug smelling of coffee, but it's either insufficient, or it hasn't kicked in yet.
In any case, Taizen seems much more energetic. He softly woofs something (still not risking saying something in human speak), and Atsuro translates. "Are we going to have one person for each of the people we're following? If so, how will we communicate with each other while we're following them? I came up with those questions on my own, because I am a genius."
Soren scratched his cheek, raising a brow. He was already stacking his plate, and his glass, smelling faintly of orange juice. "Hmmm… it sounds like a solid strategy. Each of us picks one, and follows them. When they split up, we split up. If worse comes to worse, I can send Ayame to either of you. Atsuro can send Taizen. Daisuke, I believe you have a 'partner' aswell, correct?" he asks with a slightly raised brow.
He leans back scratching his chin. "The real problem comes, if they spot us. We have to make sure we aren't spotted, or else they will just lead us off away from our objective." he says, stroking his chin. "Hopefully they lead us to the same location, otherwise we just have that much more to investigate." he says, shrugging. "Not that it's a problem, but it does give them more of a chance to avoid being caught."
"Yes, we all know Taizen is a genius." Daisuke comments with a smirk, thinking up a quick plan. "If they do break apart, whether they notice they are being followed or they actually go their separate ways, I'll take the big bearded one, Atsuro takes the lady, and Soren can take the thin one." he suggests to Taizen's question.
"I'm confident that our tracking skills are competent enough by now to not get caught, but if you sense something amiss, like they figured you out and are leading you into a trap or something, feel free to peel off. In terms of partners, lets just say mine is rather attached to me, so I won't be able to communicate by sending him out to find you. That would be…rather disastrous for the city. That being said, I might have a few options if it comes to that, with my Summon Contract animals."
"Lets put the dishes aside and get moving guys, we don't have much time to get into place before the usual time of their first meeting." he suggests to the duo, putting his dishes neatly aside from where they were eating at the table of the inn. He waits for everyone to assemble before heading out to the rooftop position they had located on their first day in the city, ready to wait for the 'evil' trio to arrive at the palace gates.
"Yes he is," says Atsuro, "But I don't see how that's related to what I said. I'm a little surprised you didn't take the lady for yourself." He immediately stands up, his chair skidding back along the floor a short ways. Looks like that caffiene is working! "Anyway, I was born for this. Well, it's not the specific /reason/ I was born, but I'm preeeeetty good at following people." He crackes his knuckles in an exaggerated, macho sort of way. "Anyway, Taizen wouldn't attract too much attention if I sent him. He's big, but other than that, he looks like an ordinary dog." He and Taizen head off back to their room. Then, soon enough, they're on the rooftop, ready and waiting for this part of the mission to start.
Soren nods. "Fair enough. It sounds like we have ourselves a plan." he says, smiling a bit, considering the nature of Daisukes contracts. Huh… well, it certainly seems only being able to summon Ayame, that Soren is the oddity of contract holders. Who would've guessed? "Fair enough then. Let's get going."
And a few minutes later, he's arrived on the rooftop, in his mission gear. "Any sign of them yet?"
"I'm not a desperate man, I don't 'take' the ladies when there are ladies." Daisuke says to Atsuro to clear that up, surprised he even had to. "And yes, this is the sole reason why you were born, to track your target and save the Land of Bears." he confirms with a strict nod.
On the rooftop, the trio wouldn't have to wait long, as the other trio arrives pretty much on time like they had been before. Previous observations had them exiting within 20 minutes of their arrival, this early in the morning, which was highly unusual and originally had them flagged in the Leaf trio's minds. "Alright, looks like we are twenty minutes from go time. Let's make sure we don't all just charge over the rooftops trying to look cool. We should try to have at least one on the ground level. I suggest Atsuro and Taizen because a dog leaping from roof to roof might be unusual, and they have better senses if they can't actually see them."
Sure enough, 20 minutes later the trio exits the palace doors, walks across the long path through the front gardens, and finally exits the gates. For now the trio is staying with one another, walking down the street to the west of where the Leaf nins were positioned, moving through the crowd well.
With an exaggerated frown, Atsuro replies, "You just want to get rid of us, huh?" He exchanges glances with Taizen, "Rude!" Despite the fake complaining, he and Taizen head down to the ground floor, where Atsuro leans against a nearby wall, acting casually. Taizen sits on his haunches nearby and looks around, acting like a dog — a perfect imitation! When they spot the trio, Atsuro pretends to be inspecting his nails, though he watches them out of the corner of his eye. When they've gone far enough, he pushes off from the wall and shoves his hands into his pockets. He and Taizen follow the suspicious three in a leisurely stroll, skillfully weaving their way through the crowds without incident.
Soren nods. "Agreed. Atsuro's the best bet for ground tracking. Sorry dude." he says with a shrug aimed at Atsuro. As the pair descends, he simply finds a place to sit, while still keeping a lookout. "And now we wait…"
But the waiting was not for long. When the trio of enemy agents appears, Soren's on his feet and ready to move. "Show time…" he says, quietly. As they start moving, he keeps a fair bit of distance from them, waiting until he has a bit of cover before leaping between buildings, but still being sure he's within a moments sprint if anything is to happen.
The Bear trio moving through the crowd stop at various vendors and even swipe a few products from unsuspecting victims along their trek through the capitol city, really proving that these three were scumbags to anyone watching. Once the stores give way to more open space nearing the walls of the capitol, though, the trio suddenly go their separate ways. The large bearded man heads down the path that leads alongside the wall, with nothing but stables, the odd inn, and a few small fields. The woman moves east, opposite to the man, heading down the more scummy side of town and eventually finds an old building to go into. Once inside, one would find this was actually a gambling hall, and a rather popular one. The final, lanky man heads straight in the direction they were going originally, heading towards the gates and out of town, navigating past the gate guards with but a nod, heading along the main road the Leaf trio had used to arrive.
"Alright, I guess that was inevitable, let's keep in touch if anything is important, and meet up back at our inn." Daisuke says to Soren, before dropping down to do the same to Atsuro, and then leaving to follow his man.
Atsuro nods casually to Daisuke, as if he were a mere stranger passing by on the street. Can't blow his cover! He follows the woman into the bad side of town, lagging behind a little, confident that his sense of smell will remove any risk of losing her in the crowds. Seeing her enter the building, he hangs around outside for a moment, pretending to smoke (he has no cigarette, but his fire ninjutsu actually proves useful here!) as he peeks into the building. Once he's determined it's a gambling hall, he walks on in, but not before pretending to toss something on the ground and stamp it with his heel.
He's barely taken two steps inside before a large, burly man steps in front of him. "Hey," says the man, "you got a membership, red?" Atsuro tries the most obvious bluff first. "Yup, let me in." He takes a step forward, but the man puts a beefy hand against his chest. "You need to prove it or get outta here, deadbeat. And get that stupid dog out of here."
Atsuro sighs. "Okay, you caught me," he says dramatically, "I think my girlfriend is in here, hooking up with another guy! I need the dog to track her scent — look man, this whole thing has been gnawing away at me for weeks. I can't sleep at night… I'm barely eating…!"
Soren gave a small nod. "Luck, dude." he spares, before stealthily sliding down to ground level. By the time he hits the ground, Ayame rests on his shoulder. He smiles, and nods to the guard. "Afternoon sir. Just out for a stroll. Letting the little one stretch her legs." he says, scratching the fox pup under the chin, and passing without too much incident. He's a fair bit behind the lanky individual, his partner hopping off of his shoulder, onto the ground, stretching, before walking beside him. The careful observer would notice she's catching his scent, and Soren's simply following her lead.
After a short amount of time, the gangly man of the trio departs the path, heading off deeper into the woods, prompting Soren to give him a bit more lee-way, trusting Ayame's nose, and his own tracking ability to make up for the lack of being able to remain close without attracting attention.
The bouncer wasn't impressed with Atsuro's story, perhaps he didn't give enough details or his sobstory wasn't convincing him. Either way, he crosses those big burly arms over his wide chest and doesn't look like he's going to let Atsuro through any time soon. Perhaps there was another way to get inside. Meanwhile, inside, the female has settled down in a far corner with a few others, the conversation about to start up.
Soren's mark walks down the road a good bit before suddenly cutting into the forest. Did he see Soren? At this point it was uncertain, but whatever he was doing, it didn't look like he was following any kind of path or particular direction through the forest He was walking at a brisk pace and didn't look back once, making it hard to tell what exactly was going on. This pace would continue for about another 5 minutes before the trees opened up into a grassy clearing. The man is heading to the center of the clearing.
"I guess /someone's/ never been cheated on," Atsuro says bitterly, "Hah, you've probably been the other guy, haven't you? You're probably /her/ other guy. Watch your shade, shade!" He spits on the ground, then stomps off, his shoulders hunched and muttering darkly to himself. Taizen follows after him, whimpering and leaving his tail limp between his hind legs.
They kept note of the building's location and the moment they round the corner, though, they duck into a nearby alley, look and sniff around, then jump up to a rooftop. Quickly locating the building they just failed to get into, they move back in that direction, and jump down into the alleys behind it. After a bit of looking around, they find an open window big enough to accomodate them. After another quick check to make sure nobody's watching, Atsuro pulls Taizen towards him and makes a seal. In a puff of smoke, Taizen is apparently replaced by another Atsuro! "Twin brothers," Atsuro whispers, then listens at the window. They climb in one after another and find themselves in a bathroom.
Atsuro looks around. "Urinals," he mutters, "That was lucky." Then he moves over to the door, where he listens, then opens it slightly to peek through the crack. Then he steps out into the main gambling hall, looking sooooo casual. Shortly afterward, his twin brother leaves the bathroom too.
Soren sighed almost inaudibly as the guy diverted suddenly. He quite simply just kept walking, trying to give the dude a chance to think Soren was jsut a coincidence, before Soren turns, taking the long way around to try and track them. It's a little bit trickier to track him, but hopefully it should pay off, in throwing him off if he suspected anything. When the man heads towards the field, Soren simply finds a tree, and plants himself to it, taking care to avoid being spotted again if at all possible.
As Atsuro maneuvered his way through the gambling hall, careful enough to not be in close enough proximity to Taizen to raise eyebrows, the conversation between the woman and some men she just met at the table starts up. Assuming Atsuro would move in that general direction to be able to hear at least important tidbits through the raucous crowd, the conversation would go something like this.
"The situation is looking up…….. outside Hoshigakure and go from there ……..Hoshikage……. Daimyou replacement…. three days from now." The three at the table were whispering fairly quietly, though Atsuro's keen hearing made him the right man for this assignment, a good call by the Hokage, it seemed. It seemed like the important talk was over by that point as the mugs of sake arrived and the place got even more raucous. If Atsuro had looked her way at all throughout the 'stakeout', listening to the conversation, the woman would've made eye contact for just long enough to make Atsuro question what was going on.
Soren's man continues to the middle of the clearing, crouching down in the long grass for a moment before suddenly disappearing from the view in the trees on the outskirts of the field. The curious cat who wandered into the field would suddenly be ambushed by four gruff looking men, all wearing Hoshigakure headbands and common cloth attire that you would see in the capitol. They would attempt to surround him.
On the other hand, if Soren chose to stay in the trees, he would spot some men wandering through the forest after about 5 minutes of giving up on him not coming out. Either way, there were men looking for Soren, it seems the man had led him into a trap!
How best to blend in here without distracting oneself with actual gambling? Atsuro always knows that answer. He walks over to the bar and orders a drink. Then he casually leans against a wall, just close enough to listen to what this woman is saying. He takes very light sips of his drinks as he strains his ears. Fortunately, with hearing like Atsuro's that's nowhere near as close as one might expect. He quickly makes a mental note of what seems to be important in their conversation. Hoshigakure and the Hoshikage, a Daimyo replacement, and something three days from now. Trusting in his hearing and sense of smell, though, Atsuro only gives the woman an occasional glance, so as not to be too obvious that he's spying on her.
Soren did not infact enter the field. When the man dissapeared, Soren simply assume it was some sort of trap door he had dissapeared into. A mental note was made of the location as he waited, patiently.
Soren honestly thought the target was using this as some form of secret meeting place, and was waiting for conformation of the fact in the form of the man re-appearing. But when the second group of men started wandering about the forest, Soren gave a silent ah of understanding. Nooo… this was jsut a trap. And that my friends, is why we're cautious.
Instead Soren simply lept forward, a blur of movement, striking down the first man. THe attack wasn't meant to kill, only incapacitate. A surge of chakra from Soren's fist would send the first reeling back unconcious. As soon as the other three realized what had happened, the second was down too, a kick delivering another chakra strike sending the man tumbling backwards into a tree. Soren took a small breath, turning to face the other two combatants, and their counter attack.
Atsuro had caught all the useful information he needed, though as he sticks around in case there is more, he hears something interesting. "Some foreigner was following Reno out of town into the forests, one of the gangs should be taking care of him now." If Atsuro was able to connect the dots he would figure out that someone on the team was in trouble, though a name wasn't given, just the location as a clue. Who had gone in what direction, again?
Meanwhile, Soren has figured out there was an ambush by being overly cautious, able to get the jump on the men in the forest intending to dispatch him. He had already disposed of two of the men before the other two came in range of Soren. One man was proficient with ranged weaponry, as numerous shuriken fly towards Soren with decent aim and speed. The other was a swordsman, and rather skilled. He waited for the weaponry to fly by before unsheathing his katana and charging towards Soren to engage him in a fight between swordsmen.
Uh-oh. Atsuro was getting the feeling that he was done here, but that little tidbit makes things more clear. He /has/ to be done here. He takes a surreptitious sniff of the air to lock the woman's scent into his memory, then heads back for the bathroom, giving Taizen a glance from across the room. In the bathroom, he gives his drink a mournful look, then takes a final sip and sets the still nearly full glass on a sink. He climbs out the window back into the alley. Shortly afterward, Taizen emerges too, then returns to his dog form.
After a quick run up to the top of the building, they look all around the village for the forest nearby. Then, once they've spotted it, head towards it at top speed, bounding across roofs and trees, and keeping their noses primed as they reach the forest, ready to smell anyone who might be here and present them with a problem.
Soren simply took a step to the right, turning his body paralel to the flight of the shurriken, slipping right through the cloud of blades without efort. The Swordsman, however, is met with a bit more cockyness. Soren's chakra flares, hardening his flesh, and he lifts his left arm to block, letting the blade connect. The screech of steel against hardened flesh fills the air… but Soren looks honestly surprised, when the realization dawns on him. This guy still nicked him!
Soren pushed off with his rear foot, chakra surging along his right arm as he drives his fist home, knocking the man back a distance, before Soren flickers next to the ranged combatand. "Hi there." he says with a rather irritated grin, a quick chakra feuled jab to render him incapacitated to match atleast 2 of his companions.
Before Atsuro can leap out into the field to help Soren, he is assaulted with the remaining member of the gang, the initial man who Soren followed. The man seemed to also be a swordsman of considerable skill, as he strikes out towards Atsuro by aiming towards a difficult spot to defend. With Atsuro engaged, Soren would have to fend for himself for a little bit, though the proximity between the two should be close enough for them to spot each other.
As for Soren himself, he manages to incapacitate the ranged warrior and send the melee back a good 15 yards, though the man had managed to absorb most of the powerful attack into his blade in a weapon block. It seems both Soren and Atsuro have met up with quite skilled warriors. The man gets his footing again and charges forward with four really quick and agile jabs towards Soren, at least trying to make him unsheath his sword. To the keen swordsman's eye, the way both men attack would mimic that of ancient Samurai styles, though if they did not have knowledge of such warriors, the art of the styles would be lost.
Although this man is clearly prepared for another fighter joining the fray, Atsuro and Taizen are very hard fellows to ambush. The man Soren was following has cleverly waited in the bushes below, directly beneath a tree in Atsuro's path. As Atsuro comes, unable to alter his course since he's airborne, the man jumps up, slicing the branch from under Atsuro.
Atsuro rolls as he hits the ground and comes away unharmed (not counting his ego), but the man is already stalking towards him. Preparing a vicious strike, the man raises his sword, but something rams into him from behind. Saved by Taizen, Atsuro rolls away, this time fluidly getting back to his feet. Then he draws his sword just in time to swipe at the man, saving Taizen in much the same way that the dog just saved him. Man and dog both back away slightly from this clearly dangerous man. They're quite familiar with this sort of kenjutsu, and Atsuro is an expert in this style himself. They do have one major advantage, though, and that's simply that there's two of them. Being on opposite sides of Reno, a quick glance between the two is enough to plan an attack, and both charge in to strike at him from either side, Taizen with a swipe of his claws, Atsuro with a swing of his blade.
Soren hadn't even noticed Atsuro yet, with the opponent before him. The man was indeed dangerous, and Soren was not taking him lightly. He didn't make the same mistake as last time. He stuck to his guns, shifting and weaving between the first couple of attacks, the worst injury recieved being a couple minor tears in his clothes, and a nick in his upper arm. Amidst the flurry, Soren attaches a chakra string to the mans leg nice and subtley, giving it a nice firm yank, attempting to turn the man around and hopefully destroying the mans guard, before turning into a firm kick to the skull. Soren wasn't as strong as Atsuro or Daisuke, but hopefully a good braining would still drop the guy.
The man fighting Atsuro and Taizen seems outmatched as soon as Taizen jumps in to help Atsuro, 2 to 1. One can tell he knows he's not going to make it out of this unless he ditches his friend and books it. As Atsuro and Taizen strike, they give the man more incentive to leave as they strike blood. Out comes a large smoke pepper bomb, that will not only explode to leave a nice area of smoke, but also sting the senses, Inuzuka ones especially. Seems this man has lived to fight another day, and most likely soon.
Soren's man is completely caught unaware that Soren is actually a puppeteer, the chakra string technique highly effective and enables him to knock the man out cold. And so the duo is left with a few unconscious goons, even if the 'leader' did get away. Whichever they decide to take back or interrogate, they wouldn't know much, as they mostly did what they were told. They do get a name, 'Reno', the man who fought Atsuro. Either way, the duo of Leaf would find Daisuke waiting at the gates to the capitol with nothing much to report, as they all head back to the inn to reconvene and report.